horror movie

Wicked Wednesday: Popcorn (1991)

Sometimes, what a horror movie really needs is a unique setting. Step aside, summer camps. Go away, sleepy small towns! Horror movie marathons is where we should be. And thanks to the comedy slasher Popcorn, our horror-nerd dreams get to come true.

Young university student Maggie has a reoccurring dream about a girl named Sarah, who is attacked by a mad man. She records her memories on her tape recorder in hopes of later using it for a movie. Her dream worries her mother, who has shepherded her from place to place since she was a girl.

Maggie’s film department is rather pushed around. No space and no money. But her fellow classmate Toby comes up with the idea to host an horror film festival. But not just any all-night: one with all the bells and whistles of the gimmick-movie heyday (including aroma-rama and shock-o-vision). A local memorabilia shop owner allows them to use his things to decorate the cinema and get it ready for the night.

But just as the students wrap up their work, they discover a canister containing old film. They decide to run the film. They soon realise that it’s a strange movie called The Possessor, and follows Maggie’s dream almost identically. Maggie faints during the film, and when she’s awake, their professor tells them about the movie.

The professor explains that it was made by a man named Lanyard Gate, a man who ran a sort of film-related cult. Gates killed his family live on stage before setting fire to the movie theatre, which killed the entire audience that was locked inside.

Considering the similarities between her dream and the film, Maggie asks her mom about it. She claims not to know anything, but soon gets a phone call. Maggie’s mom goes to the movie theatre where she is attacked by someone and grabbed.

The following day is the movie marathon, the film department gear up for the long night ahead. A strange, unseen man approached Maggie in the ticket booth and calls her Sarah. She tries to find him, but he’s lost in the sea of costumed customers.

During the first film, the professor is killed by being impaled by a giant robotic mosquito. He’s dragged away where someone made a cast of his face, then a rubber mask.

One of the students goes backstage, looking for the professor. She sees a man with the professor’s face and begins to make out with him, but she soon realises that it’s a mask. The man peels off the mask revealing a badly-burnt face. She’s killed before she can even attempt to get away.

The burned man then kills another student, Bud, by electrocuting him in his wheelchair. The surge in power casues the entire cinema to lose power.

The remaining students (unaware that their classmates all dropping like flies) all attempt to regain power before the audience really loses their shit. Maggie goes to look for Bud, but instead finds the burned man, who claims to be Gates. He tells her that she is his daughter, and that her real name is Sarah. Oh and her mom is not her real mom because her real mother was stabbed to death!

Maggie finds Toby and the two of them attempt to look for the circuit breakers. She tells him about her childhood memories, which had been unlocked with her conversation with Gates. While searching, they both fall into a hole and into the lair of the killer.

But in a twist-reveal, Gates admits that he is not actually Lanyard Gates, but TOBY. Stupid, stuttering Toby. He begins to show off his masks to Maggie, explaining that his mother had been killed in the fire when he and her were front stage watching the film. His face became disfigured, requiring him to use a life-like mask to make himself appear real.

Obviously he blames Sarah/Maggie for everything because as she was only a child, she’s solely guilty for everything! But then he wheels out ‘mom’, who is actually Maggie’s aunt, who saved her during the ordeal.

Toby’s chess pieces are in order when the final film of the marathon cuts out and The Possessor begins to play. Maggie and her mom and placed on stage where Toby begins to perfectly re-enact the scenes from the film.

Just before he’s able to kill Maggie, she’s saved by her boyfriend, who zip-lines onto stage. The giant, robotic mosquito kills Toby, and ultimately saves the day (yay).

Popcorn was written by my now go-to Canadian writer, Alan Ormsby (DerrangedDead of Night). This was very similar to what he was going for in his film Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. A group of high-brow artists (in this case, filmmakers in Children it’s stage actors) who stumble upon darker circumstances than they bargained for.

I personally love the idea of the movie marathon as the setting. But it also is a nice look at why horror fans are ultimately so sadistic. We cheer for deaths and destruction, but does that confusion bleed into reality?

The movie was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to re-watch it again with a better picture. Popcorn will be re-released on Blu-Ray in the UK through 88 Films this October.

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Wicked Wednesday: Cheerleader Camp (1988)

Going into a movie without expectations can be hard. A lot of the times, we can go into movies and get what we expect. Sometimes there are surprises. Cheerleader Camp has no surprises.

Camps. Cheerleaders. An alternate title of Bloody Pom Poms. We all know what we’re getting here.

A group of six cheerleaders and their mascot take a van out to Camp Hurrah to participate in a cheerleading competition. Why is there an important competition at a camp where there are no judges? Beats me.

At the centre of things is Alison (Betsy Russell), a cheerleader with a tormented mind. She falls asleep each night and has disturbing nightmares. Though the real nightmare in Alison’s life is that her boyfriend Brent (Leif Garrett) has eyes for all the other girls at camp, particularly a blonde from a rival team.

The next day, Alison finds the blonde in her bed with both of her wrists slit. The counselor (owner, judge, whatever), Miss Tipton, is certain that there is no foul play, and refuses to call the police. But when Alison stumbles upon the body in the freezer, she calls the sheriff. Only the sheriff is more interested in getting into Miss Tipton’s pants than getting any work done.

Meanwhile, while Brent goes off to busy himself with other women, Alison strikes up a friendship with the mascot, Cory (Lucinda Dickey). The girls try to boost each other’s self-esteem.

When one of Alison’s teammates, Pam, begins to cozy up to Brent, Alison leaves him behind. Pam and Brent go off in the woods together, but Pam refuses to do anything with them. When he leaves her, she begins to chase after him in the woods. But the poor girl gets a sheers to the back of the head before she can find him.

That night it’s the cheerleading competition, which looks more like a talent show for cruise ship guests than an actual competition. Thankfully, the moves are as brilliantly 80’s as you’d want them to be.

Cory loses the mascot competition, despite the fact that she pulls from sweet break dancing moves (probably all learned from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo). The gang also lose their competition after Pam doesn’t show for their performance. Though Bonnie, another of Alison’s teammates, wins Miss USA Cheer 2020 or something. So good for her.

Shame she’ll die anyway.

During the post-competition celebrations, Cory, Brent, Alison and Theresa go out into the woods to look for Pam. Of course none of them think to search as a group. One-by-one they run out into the woods alone.

Theresa finds Pam’s corpse in the woods, and begins head back to the camp. Though she doesn’t get very far when she’s smashed against a tree by a van. When Theresa’s body is found by her teammates, Brent decides to alert the camp that there’s a killer on the loose. Everyone but Alison’s team scatter, as their van doesn’t work (it’s been tampered with – surprise).

A very drunk Miss Tipton gets stabbed in the back. She stumbles into Alison, who grabs the meat cleaver from her back. Cory walks in at that moment, and catches Alison in a suspicious position. Alison becomes increasingly unsure of what is reality, and what memories are from her dreams.

Without the van, the kids begin to search the woods again. They run into the camp’s gardener, who fires his gun in the air to scare them off. Timmy, the over-weight comedic vomit of the movie, stays behind. He’s spent most of his time filming the going-ons at the camp (meaning topless cheerleaders), and decides to set up the camera for the killer.

The increasingly-small group realise that Timmy isn’t around. When Brent goes to look for him, he only finds the camera. The survivors go to watch the footage, and watch as Timmy dies on film.

This somehow convinces Brent that the gardener,Pop, is responsible for the killings. They set up a booby trap, which actually kills the sheriff. Though Cory manages to kill Pop when he goes after Brent with his gun.

The remaining kids, Brent, Alison, Cory and Bonnie, regroup in one of the cabins. Brent sends Bonnie to call the police and Cory leaves after her. With Brent and Alison alone, he tries to come on to her. Alison tells him no, but the boy is stopped when Cory interrupts, saying she an’t find Bonnie.

When Brent goes off to look for Bonnie, Cory confides in Alison that she believes Brent is the killer. Despite not having any real proof, Alison takes a gun from Cory and the two girls go to look for Brent.

They find the boy standing over Bonnie’s corpse. Alison shoots her boyfriend, seemingly ending the killings. But when the police arrive, they arrest Alison, who is in too much shock to protest.

While the police carry her away on a stretcher, Cory talks to the policeman. He tells her it’s likely that Alison will stay in a mental ward for years. Cory agrees, saying that Alison was obsessed with what others thought of her – trying to be perfect. Between the dreams and the pills, she’s obviously the murderer.

With a knowing smile, Cory flounces off to have a bit of cheerleading practice of her own.

And that, is an underwhelming ending. It’s quite clear that throughout the film Cory is the killer. She’s obviously manipulating Alison, and is the only one who cares about those who insult her. Plus no one likes Cory because she’s a stupid mascot.

But nothing about Cheerleader Camp is a surprise. It’s cheesy, skeezy, and a bit schlocky. Going into this, at least, I wasn’t expecting anything more than what I got.

If it’s a cheesy, below-average slasher you’re looking for, Cheerleader Camp will do the trick. There’s plenty to chuckle at to make it enjoyable. Though it’s of course dated, and filled with out-dated fun like slut-shaming.

Also. Explain me this: Why did the filmmakers cast the only dancer in the movie (Dickey) as the only non-cheerleader roll? Those last few minutes at the end hardly count. Also, it clearly establishes she’s much better than anyone else on the real team, so there’s no excuse as to why she didn’t make the team.

Obviously getting to the heart of the real problems here.

Wicked Wednesday: Bloody New Year (1987)

I know a lot of people who would consider New Year’s the most disappointing of all holidays. Maybe it’s meant to always be disappointing. That’s what you get for having expectations?

You know what else is disappointing? Bloody New Year.

This 1987 British horror film was directed by Norman J Warren, a director I have zero experience with, but was supposedly an unusual, but interesting filmmaker. I assume that this wasn’t a highlight of his career.

On New Year’s Even in 1959 (turning into 1960) a group of party-goers welcome in the New Year in a hotel ballroom. A girl, the last left, stands in front of a mirror before she’s grabbed and pulled through.

Some twenty years later, a group of kids are spending the day at the seaside. It’s some time in July – not December. The two girls go off to speak to a fortune teller while the three boys stroll around. The boys soon catch a girl being terrorised on a tilt-a-whirl by a group of carnies at the funfair.

The boys step in, one of them even ruining the ride to help out the girl. The carnies chase the group of friends throughout the funfair, but the kids are eventually able to escape the three angry men.

They friends learn that the rescued girl is Carol, an American visiting on holiday. As her friends haven’t arrived yet, she agrees to go with the British group out on a boat.

While out at sea, the boat begins to sink and everyone is forced to jump ship. Luckily, they are not too far from an island are able to swim to shore. Only the island is booby-trapped. Which probably isn’t so lucky.

The cold, wet sack of friends search the island until they stumble upon a hotel. The hotel is, unusually for July, done up in Christmas and New Year’s decorations. But assuming it’s just “quirky,” the kids split up into couples to search for anyone in the hotel to speak to.

While looking around, strange things happen. A magazine closes itself, snooker balls reset themselves, and a ghostly maid appears to give Carol a blanket.

Despite that this hotel has been vacant for nearly 20 years (it’s the hotel from the beginning, shock), nothing seems really gross. Someone even manages to take a bath. The clothes in the suitcases are in perfect condition.

I live in Britain. I know how damp it is. There is no way that this shit would be in good shape. Unless, that is, that Ghost Maid is super good at her job and likes to keep up her work during her after life.

Eventually, a couple are able to turn on the power. The kids all change into the 50’s-style clothes they find in the guest rooms and get changed into dry clothing. In the background, a news show from the 1959 is playing on the TV in the background. This is apparently key, but will make no sense no matter how many times you watch it: New Year’s night there will be an experiment with an anti-radar device on a plane that will make the plane become invisible. And some dude on the show is mad about this.

Me too, I guess.

The kids eventually discover a cinema room in the hotel, which is playing Fiend Without a Face. When the film rolls out, a different film starts playing of three people in front of the hotel. One of the men in the film jumps out, and kills one of the boys. Since I don’t know his name, I don’t really care.

The remaining five run out of the hotel and decide to split up and look for help. The first couple, Lesley and Tom, find a home, but when they go inside, they don’t find the caretakers, but a sort of seaweed tablecloth monster that attacks Lesley, though Tom seems to kill it off?

The second couple, Janet and Rick, go into the woods where they hear laughter and see bushes shaking. A bit like Evil Dead but in the daylight (though everyone keeps referencing that it’s “getting dark”). They run to the beach where they see footprints appear then disappear. I don’t want to tell them that it’s just a trick of the film because they seem rather scared by this.

Janet and Rick see and explosion in the forest, and run to see it. They find the remains of the plane inside a burnt-out building.

Poor Carol is stuck waiting by the hotel. Thinking that being alone is a good idea. After getting freaked out, she chases after a figure that is clearly not her friends but is convinced that it is anyway. Though after getting freaking out in a similar with as Lesley and Tom (but with snow because nothing says “I’m going to kill you” like some wind), she runs back to the hotel.

Rick, Janet, Carol and Lesley are reunited at the hotel and go back to the house Lesley found with Tom. There’s a lot of this, in case you’re interested. But when they return, they find that the house has somehow ended up on the side of a cliff. That’s when they are attacked by one of the funfair men. Because that’s still a thing we care about.

The man punches Lesley in the stomach, but his fist goes through her stomach – revealing that she’s a ghoul of some sort. The three remaining not-dead-people, run away while the carny is killed by Ghoul Lesley. They fight off the other two carnies back at the hotel. Though Ghoul Lesley helps them in her own way by offing one herself.

Rick “kills” Ghoul Lesley and the three have a moment to think. That’s when Carol realises that the funfair men must have arrived by boat. She’s my favourite of this group. They decide to look for the boat when they bump into Tom, who looks badly wounded. And because they didn’t learn their lesson the first time, the leave Janet behind to take care of him while Rick and Carol go to look for the boat.

Unsurprisingly, Janet gets attacked by Tom, who is also one of these ghouls. Carol and Rick are too late to save her, and she’s sucked into an elevator wall. They decide to run around the hotel endlessly, dodging kitchen knives, carnies and various traps until they end up in the ballroom.

Some woman on the stage says something about an “Elimination Waltz” and at this point, I could care less, but the imagery gets a bit more dream-like and interesting. She tells Carol and Rick something about the plane crash and how the experiment went wrong, shattering time itself.

If that means something to you, congratulations.

The two try to leave. Are trapped in the games room where all party-goers from 1960, the carnies and their friends stand around and taunt them.

When Carol and Rick finally do think they’ve escaped, they run for the boat. Unsurprisingly, neither escapes. Rick is stupid and goes back for his clearly-dead girlfriend, and Carol is pulled into the sea like it’s a dream about Camp Crystal Lake.

In the weirdest ‘twist’ of the ending, we see the British kids dancing around the ballroom with the 1960’s folk, but poor Carol is in the mirror! WHY IS CAROL IN THE MIRROR? Why has any of this happened?

Bloody New Year is a pile of confusing shit that is a lot more boring than it should be. It’s clearly a misleading title trying to capitalise on holiday video sales, I can let that go, but it lacks on so many other levels. Where is the blood? Where is the explanation to why these people are forever stuck on this island?

Some of the scenes are rather good-looking, which might make it worth watching once. But this movie is not as good as some people would lead you to believe. And it certainly isn’t a good movie for New Year’s. While the plot certainly sounds fun, this is a lot of potential squandered by a poor script.

There is one bright side. We all know I’m a sucker for an original song. And damn do they milk the hell out of this song. If you don’t have this memorised by the end, you’re not paying attention. The band Cry No More provide a few tracks that are pretty catchy, but couldn’t be more out of place.

Thaaaaat’s a recipe for romance!

 

 

Wicked Wednesday: Drive-In Massacre (1977)

drivein

Drive-In Massacre is a very dark film, and unfortunately I’m just referring to the lighting. Most of the scenes in the drive-in are so indistinguishable it’s mostly like watching a black square with a bit of flashing light. I was hoping for some grindhouse influence, but to no avail.

This movie is mostly a long sequence of boring interrogations, interspersed with scenes of couples getting killed by a sword. Yes, a sword. Many of the workers at the theatre are former carnival workers, including the bald-headed dick of a manager and the “half-wit who sweeps up,” Germy.

One night, a young couple are at the local drive-in. While fooling around, the girl doesn’t notice that her boyfriend has literally lost his head. When she starts to panic, she gets a sword through the throat. Only I glanced away for a moment (sychronised swimming was on while I was watching this) and I thought the girl was choking herself out of shock, which would have been a whole lot more weird, but a least a bit refreshing, right?

In charge with the murder investigation are two dumb policemen. Surprised? They go to the drive-in to interview the manager and Germy. This is about a ten-minute conversation that is sure to put anyone to sleep. Nothing brings drama like listening to an angry man talking about his nightly routine at work. Joy! Germy later admits that he was a geek in the carnival and swallowed swords (I think) before the carnival was shut down and turned into the drive-in.

A second couple are killed by sword again, and this time its after they are creeped on by local creeper… Creep (like I said, sychronised swimming, I can’t be bothered with names). Though I can’t understand why the couple are at the drive-in. The woman keeps insisting they go because two people were murdered there the previous night. Well, duh. Perhaps you should have gone out for dinner instead? Even more confusingly, the manager later states that the theatre has been busier than ever? Nothing like bringing the loved one to a murder scene for a bit of films and romance.

Anyway, Germy tells the police that he saw the creeper hanging around the car where the murders took place. The two idiots go to the creeper’s house to investigate him. He’s clearly innocent, but he still runs away anyway when the police find something in his car. He’s arrested and then immediately released. Which makes me really glad I had to sit through all of that for no reason or plot development at all.

The police decide to attempt a different tactic, actually patrolling the drive-in during a stake out. Only they get distracted by Germy. When the boyfriend screams that his girlfriend is headless (only he doesn’t say this, I only dream up more interesting dialogue here), the cops run to the car of the creeper (who is somehow still allowed into the drive-in despite being a murder suspect) and find that he has been murdered as well.

I think, anyway. I really couldn’t see. Bit dark.

Then the film goes a bit down hill… which I found out was possible.

Gormy heads to a carnival. Not sure if its a flashback or just a different carnival somewhere else, but he just wanders it aimlessly while different quotes from the film play over. And… end scene.

The police get a call that there is a man with a machete, so they head out to catch their killer. Only they appear to be getting a sword and a machete mixed up. Because police are dumb! Get it?? They “rescue” the little girl from the man who has grabbed her, but after they shoot the suspect dead, the girl scolds them for killing her mentally ill father. Only with this scene, it just opens with a man dragging a girl around a dark warehouse. I swear I had accidentally changed movies.

The “shocking” conclusion is the only bit that slightly pays off here. Gormy goes in to talk to his boss, who had just fired him. The police and some random girl watch as someone gets killed in front of the projector. As they rush in they find the manager’s dead body… AND GORMY’S! The killer is still on the loose – killing all over in drive-ins in America!

So I spoiled the ending, yes. But I did you a favour, really. You weren’t going to watch this. At least you shouldn’t, anyway. I can put up with bad movies, but this really had nothing going for it. It’s shockingly (or not so shockingly) dull. There isn’t much fun here for anyone.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 35: Fever Lake

fever

I’ve been back and forth about covering Fever Lake for a while now. When I started WWW, I had made the decision to strictly cover movies set in Wisconsin, and not just necessarily what was filmed there. But obviously this is something that has fallen by the wayside with movies like The Pit. All of this 1996 film was shot in Kenosha and Twin Lakes, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Wisconsin-Illinois border. So I guess this baby is as good as any, even if I’m not entirely sure where it’s supposed to be set.

But Corey Haim is in this AND Mario Lopez. So really.

Fever Lake begins much like those “we’ll fake you out with a fake horror movie in the beginning” movies. A woman hides her son up in the attic before she gets the chop by her ax-wielding husband. But obviously the kid doesn’t care because he’s instantly spotted by his father who says to him, “We have the curse boy! Can’t escape it!” Then they share their feelings with some green glowing eyes. This was the big where I was expecting it to cut away to a bunch of kids riffing the movie in the cinema, but no luck. This is the tone of the movie I’m stuck with.

Probably at some time in the future, Corey Haim is running track. He’s approached by a girl who is there to provide exposition. They and a group of friends are meeting up after school for their camping trip. Then this rather dull conversation is followed up by a good 30 seconds of Mario Lopez and Haim just walking in the halls and literally nothing else. Apparently the directors thought it was more important that the viewers knew that our boys were going to lunch. And that is thus much more important than establishing anything else about the relationship between the two kids.

The dialogue is so bland and snooze-inducing I wish I was anywhere but watching this movie and the movie has barely clocked 10 minutes. We get to learn exciting things about our characters like what activities they like to do. Even when I tarantula shows up on their friend’s shoulder, I’m barely interested.

Anyway, the six kids start heading up to the lake for their trip. Meanwhile, Sheriff Bo Hopkins and white-man-playing-not-white-character “Clear Springs” have a discussion about the evil coming to the lake. Clear Springs tells the sheriff that he’s seen a vision about evil returning to the village. Get it, because he’s supposed to be Native American?

So before they even reach the lake, the kids experience strange going-ons before they even reach the house they’re staying at. It’s typical things like the sheriff telling the boys off and a waitress in the cafe telling the girls “you can’t go there, you know what happened.” And all of it with the atmosphere of elevator music.

The waitress from the cafe meets the girls after her shift and fills in the backstory of the house: “A few years ago, when I was like 2 or something” apparently the murder happened, which is super weird considering everything in the opening scene looked like it was set in the 50s. But in case you missed it the first five times: the locals don’t go on that side of the lake because evil.

While the kids sleep, things start to get a little possessed. Harbinger of doom at random fishing shop fills in more backstory. Apparently the killings happened at least twice, which I guess explains the weird flashback bit at the beginning. After this bit, I’m pretty certain I did fall asleep because a good few minutes are completely gone to my mind. I don’t know, but considering how lame this movie is, I’m sure we can all guess. One of the girl’s computer starts writing her story for her? Oooh spooky. Way to be helpful, evil spirit.

Oh and the waitress gets killed by a wolf, which is another stupid subplot that takes up a good part of the last half of the film.

When the lights go out at the lake house, the group reluctantly decide to play hide-and-seek. This ends up being the opportune time to make out, I guess. Poor possessed-computer girl obviously doesn’t know how to play the game because she spends most of her “seeking” time trying on dead people’s jewellery and just being creepy. But at least people finally start dying, but we don’t get to see ANY OF IT. Well, I guess we see something but it’s so lame you’d see more terrifying images in a McDonald’s ad.

There was not much redeemable about Fever Lake. It was every cliche you could want thrown in with some cringe-worthy dialogue, poor acting, just a bit racist and includes some really atrocious music. Really. But the biggest sin this movie commits? Being absolutely fucking boring.

So this begs one question: Why, Corey? Why?

coreyfever

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 27: Billy Club

billyclub

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding looking for a new place in London to be the largest pain in my ass. Many of you dear readers probably don’t have a clue what it’s like to look for a flat in London (neither did I until about a week ago), but it’s super intense. Gearing up for this big move meant that I’ve been insanely busy with that and various other projects and, well, my job that actually pays my bills. My husband and I have been so busy we forgot to watch the World Series. We watched a few of the play-off games, but everything else seemed to have slipped past us. And believe me, we are big baseball fans here and watched Brewer lose more games than is good for the soul.

So it seems only fitting that this week’s movie is rather baseball themed. Billy Club is a film that doesn’t beat around the bush.

Billy Club is set in the small town of Two Rivers in Eastern Wisconsin in the year 1996. Bobby Spooner comes into the local bar where he runs into some former classmates like the barmaid, Alison. The movie takes no time in introducing two utterly obnoxious characters (Kyle and Danny), both of whom used to play little league ball with Bobby. The weekend the gang all meet up to play ball is “the 15th anniversary” of the gruesome deaths of a former coach and teammates. The deaths were all pinned to another one of their teammates, Billy.

Meanwhile, there is a killer on the loose. He’s a bat-wielding catcher taking out kids in an old photo one-by-one. It seems inevitable that our four main characters are up to bat at some point (yes I know, but it’s not any worse than the actual dialogue). They make matters worse for themselves by taking a trip up to a cabin in the woods, but Billy ruins everything by getting pulled over for drunken driving.

Kyle and Alison decide to go into the cemetery where the fallen teammates reside while Danny returns to the cabin alone. Kyle accidentally falls into grave that has been dug up, and he immediately blames Billy and his supposed release from the mental hospital for it. And suddenly things take an interesting turn. Kyle and Alison begin to have an argument about guilt over what happened all those years ago. Of course they’re vague on details, which makes it pretty heavy on intrigue.

Come morning, Danny is still alone and eats all of Alison’s “boomers” – mushroom laced chocolate. There really isn’t any point to this whole subplot, but it does begin to trigger some memories of guilt that he still has over neglecting to stop Billy from being bullied when they were on the team together. Local Crazy Jo arrives to harass Danny (mentally?) about how he “didn’t do anything.” It doesn’t take long until Danny becomes the next easy target.

In a flashback, the little ones are shown harassing Billy, who is tied up and sitting in a dunk tank. Each member of the team takes a turn trying to hit the ball on the target (and man do the suck), but Alison is the only one who refuses to throw. Hopefully her life is spared in the end.

Billy Club is a better movie than I probably deserve right now, but unfortunately it takes too many random turns in subplots for this to be as enjoyable as it could have been.  As we find out, Kyle has a little crush on Bobby. After trying and failing to make a move, it’s Kyle’s turn to run out into the woods alone. He falls into a murky pond that actaully feels like a throwback to Bog, which I really hope is what the creators were going for here. But it appears as though Bobby is first.

And then there’s still a half hour left of the movie. It seems strange that the “Final Girl” is, well, final so early on. But there are so many unexpected bits here at the end that I hardly want to give it away when Billy Club is well worth watching yourself.

There really is nothing better than enjoying a movie a lot more than you expected to. I would gladly recommend Billy Club to any fan of the slasher would be pleased to watch. It’s gory, fun and pretty clever minus it’s brief lapses in judgement, but I really think the writers and directors (Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer, who plays Kyle) really had fun with this. It all feels like a love letter to Friday the 13th without treading on the story’s toes.

One added bonus is that this movie has some really excellent poster artwork. Check out the movie’s website to take a peak. They really are wonderous.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 25: Silent Night (2012)

silentnight

Yesterday, I finally mustered the courage to watch the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. And while the movies in the original trilogy are some of my favourites, I was pleasantly surprised by it. So why not give another remake from the same time? And there’s nothing like a festive Christmas movie for the Halloween season, right? Hello, Silent Night.

I happened to stumble upon Silent Night and it’s Wisconsin location by pure accident. This weekend, I forced my husband to watch Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (which, even though he’s much more into film than I ever will be had never seen). He questioned me about Malcolm McDowell and what movies he had been in lately, so I checked out the actor’s IMDB page. When I saw Silent Night, I secretly hoped it would be a Christmas pageant movie staring McDowell as a mall Santa, but alas, this is a loose remake of the of 1984 cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Now that I’m in week 25 of this (it really does just keep going), I automatically looked at where this movie was set. It’s not a compulsion. Don’t get me wrong, I love campy, gory b-movies, but there was always something about Silent Night, Deadly Night that never quite sat right with me. It took me many years to finally sit through the entire film. And I’ve never watched any of the sequels either. But it’s Malcolm McDowell, so I had to give this a shot.

This 2012 movie begins with (of course) a “unsettling” version of the Christmas tune “Up on the House Top”. There’s a man shaving and a girl bound and gagged on a mattress, clearly in distress, but I already don’t care what happens to her because the camera then cuts to the man cutting his fingernails. This might be just a minor thing in the grand scheme of this 90-minute movie, but HOLY WOW does that fingernail clipping make my skin crawl. The man dresses in his full Santa gear before electrocuting a man to death who is covered in Christmas lights. Bonus points for colourful creativity.

Enter Deputy Aubrey Baltimore (Jaime King) who works with Sheriff McDowell Cooper. The Sheriff is requesting that Aubrey go in to work the Christmas Eve shift, despite this being her first Christmas without “John”. As with the original, there is plenty of Catholic undertones – creepy priests and the lot. Aubrey is sent to do all the crap work of the day. She first deals with a naughty Santa. But the next site she has to check out, offers something that will probably ruin her Christmas. She heads into the basement of an old house to find the fried man from earlier in the film. Oh and he just happens to be her fellow deputy.

Interspersed with the main plot are several gruesome deaths from dear old Santa. Each victim is pretty rotten: a spoiled girl, a cheating couple, a pornographer. He’s a serial killer who kills for the better of the world, right? But with the body count quickly rising, it doesn’t take too long before the police force is pulled in every direction.

Aubrey finds a Santa by the real-name of Karsson sitting alone in a pub. He tells her the legend of a man who dressed as Santa to kill his cheating wife. Karsson is their first lead, who they suspect is their “Mister Snow,” but he gets away. Aubrey and Cooper run about town chasing the wrong Santa time and time again. Neither very good at this whole police work thing. But the ending doesn’t deliver too many surprises. The last 20 or 30 minutes are mostly running around the town getting their Santas wrong or picking up on clues way too late. There are plenty of death scenes to wet your blood-appetite if that’s what you’re into. But it’s those last few minutes included that were entirely unnecessary. Maybe someone forgot to edit them in so they thought it would be a great summary?

Silent Night pretty much delivers what you’d expect. While it doesn’t have too much in common with the original other than a homicidal Santa and a few references to the first film, the movie still stands pretty well on its own. The only thing that really bothered me the entire time watching this film. It just doesn’t look like Christmas. Certainly not a Midwestern one anyway. This was even shot in Canada and they get plenty of snow. So I don’t know why this was filmed in what looked like April. But anyway, Silent Night is pretty grim, but there’s still a few things to like about this movie. For one, McDowell and King both give great performances. McDowell is clearly off his nut and having a blast with his role. And for the first half of the movie, the pacing is pretty good.

I don’t think this will replace the classic Black Christmas or even the original as anyone’s favourite festive horror movie, but it’s a pretty solid entry into that very small category.  I suppose mildly-enjoying two remakes in one week probably makes me a bad person now or something.

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